Get a great view of the game you’re after with these hunting optics and accessories.
Immediately after a firearm a bow, the most common purchase for a hunter will be some sort of optics, whether it’s a scope for a rifle, a rangefinder or a spotting scope for scouting. They all have their advantages, and some are crucial if you want to be successful this hunting season.
We gathered some of the best options from Sportsman’s Guide and wanted to preset them to you as great choices for when you’re ready to buy. The prices range, and are admittedly sometimes high when it comes to quality optics. You often get what you pay for, so considering a more expensive piece of equipment doesn’t mean you’re getting ripped off, for the most part.
We’ll help you avoid any mistaken purchases with this list, and are open to hearing what you think are the best optics choices for this year.
View the slideshow to see the picks for the best optics for the 2014 hunting season.
A good spotting scope is essential even before the hunting season officially begins. A steadied scope that’s more advanced than the scope on your firearm will let you scout the area you intend to hunt, and stay a safe enough distance away from deer, elk or other game so as not to disturb them before you get a chance at a shot.
The Barska 15-40x50mm Spotting Scope weighs only 1 pound, 4 ounces and comes with an attached mini tripod, and the price can’t be beat. It offers a 1550-foot field of vision at 1,000 yards and 15x magnification.
When considering a spotting scope, you’re definitely going to want something that can withstand the elements, like an Alpen® 18 – 36×60 mm Waterproof Spotting Scope. It’s water- and fog-proof and nitrogen filled for the ultimate security from moisture.
When scanning a large area with a spotting scope, try to break the expanse into grids, and work in rows going left, then down a row, then right. Overlap a bit of the area you viewed with each left or right pass.
Bushnell, known for quality optics, offers up their NatureView® 20-60x65mm Spotting Scope and it’s a pretty attractive proposal. The NatureView features a wide field of view, extra-long eye relief and fully coated optics. Designed for multiple purposes like bird watching and nature viewing, it’s a versatile and capable piece of equipment.
If you’re going to splurge on a spotting scope, may we suggest the Vortex® Viper High Density 20 with its 60x magnification and 80mm lens. The sunshade reduces glare, which is big during daytime scouting trips, and the field of vision at 1,000 yards is 110 feet at 20x magnification.
When it comes to distance, you don’t want to be guessing. That’s why you spend so much time zeroing your rifle scope and sighting your bow; you don’t want to over or under shoot when you know you have a doable shot.
That’s where rangefinders come in, and the HALO® XTRC is a good option to consider. It’s accurate to within one yard, and includes an LCD display with reticle and numerical displays.
Another Bushnell product, this Bushnell® Scout® 1000 ARC Rangefinder features several different modes for bows, rifles, scanning, close range and even a “Brush” mode, which disregards boulders or brush in the foreground and only focuses on the objects in the background.
It’s important to note that this Brush mode is a welcomed feature, and rangefinders can be tricky if you’re hunting in areas with a lot of terrain changes, brush or trees, or other objects.
Just because it’s dark doesn’t mean you aren’t able to get hunting-related work done, In fact, some states even allow night hunting for certain species, specifically alligator and feral hog.
But, you’ll need something a little more capable if you intend on using optics to help in your search. The Bushnell® Equinox 6×50 mm CCD Digital Night Vision Monocular will work just as well in dusk or dawn settings as it will on pitch black, moonless nights. The illumination and clarity will blow you away.
Now that’ we’ve finally gotten around to talking scopes, you’ll want to look for a few things when you consider buying one.
Price matters, as it does with anything, but almost more important is the ease of use and compatibility with your firearm. Make sure you have quality scope mounts and have followed every necessary step to attach your scope to your gun as securely as possible.
You might want to look at the Bushnell® 3-9x40mm Elite Multi-X® Riflescope for a decent entry-level option, as it won’t break the bank but will deliver what you’d expect. It’s actually been touted as the brightest riflescope in the world.
Most scopes come equipped with waterproof technology, but it’s worth ensuring your choice does before buying. Scopes of old never really had the waterproof thing down, and it makes a world of difference.
Take the Steiner® GS3 3-15x46mm Scope, for example. Its waterproofness is unbeatable, and it lets game stand out from leafy or shadowed backgrounds thanks to a Color Adjusted Transmission (CATTM) lens that amplifies the contrast you see.
Moving on to binoculars, which are usually the most common scouting and hunting optics besides a scope, you’ll want to get something that’s easy to use and isn’t cumbersome.
The Bushnell® PowerView in Realtree AP camo are pretty great, and feature a field of view of 293 feet at 1,000 yards. They’re tripod adaptable and only weigh 24 ounces.
Another camo binocular option is the Barska® 12x42mm Blackhawk which features a Mossy Oak pattern and 12x magnification.
RELATED: The 10 Best Binoculars for Hunting
Binoculars that are waterproof, durable and lightweight are the best choices. The Blackhawk satisfies them all.
When we mentioned the need for optics to avoid being cumbersome, we were serious. Packing everything you need for a hunt and then trying to have it all readily available is a tough job.
Using a tether system like the G5® Cinch™ Optics Tether will keep your hands free and your optics where you need them for quick looks.
The use of a harness for your binoculars will award the kind of secure connection you want (beyond just slinging a strap around your neck), and keep your optics with reach.
Give the Burris® Binoc Harness a shot if you’re looking for a comfortable way to carry what you know you’ll need throughout your hunting season.
The final suggestion we’ll make is the height of optic technology, a thermal imaging camera. Check out the wild capabilities of the FLIR® Scout PS32, including a built-in viewfinder display, a USB port for uploading and charging, and 9Hz video recording format, all in a light weight and compact package.
Locate game at night, through thick fog, trail dust and more with this bad boy.